Incident 81/2012

On Thursday 15th November 2012, experienced and well equipped walker Mr John David Rayton of Preston, aged 70, failed to return home in the evening from a solo walk, believed to have been in the Gisburn to Barnoldswick area of hilly rural countryside in Lancashire.

With mounting concern for his welfare, Lancashire Constabulary instigated a search operation, resulting in firstly Rossendale and Pendle MRT being called out in the very early hours of Friday 16th November, followed by a call out of the Bowland Pennine MRT.

Both MRTs joined Police resources in a search of the footpaths along possible routes Mr Rayton may have taken.

By daylight, tired searchers were joined by further Lancashire Constabulary assets, and a RAF SAR Sea King helicopter.

Our SARDA Trailing Dog Boris, and his handler Steve Nelson, were then mobilised with our Team Training Officer Elaine Gilliland attending as Steve’s navigator.

By mid morning, concern was mounting in the search for Mr Rayton, and at 10.14hrs, the MRT Search Manager, Ted Handley of Rossendale and Pendle MRT directly contacted our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE for the immediate assistance of the Bolton MRT.

A full team pager call out was made resulting in the immediate availability of nine team members plus of course Steve Nelson and Elaine Gilliland who were already en route. Other Bolton MRT members declared their availability for later in the day.

Our responding members attended a search briefing at Barnoldswick Police Station (The Search Control for this operation) arriving at 12.45hrs.

Our nine initially available members were immediately deployed in to search areas south of Gisburn in the Todber area.

As the afternoon moved on, a Police Air Support Unit helicopter joined in the search operation, alongside further Police search assets, with a corresponding multi media campaign taking place to try and locate Mr Rayton or gather any information on sightings of him the previous day.

Further SARDA (England) Air Scenting Search Dog teams were also deployed (Six we understand)

By nightfall, rain showers, some heavy, and low lying mist made for difficult search conditions, as the search areas expanded, including search retasks.

Oldham MRT were also mobilised, but shortly after responding they returned to their ‘home area’ to deal with a missing group of youngsters in the Dovestones area of the Peak District moorlands.

With further intelligence on the possible whereabouts of Mr Rayton (Or at least part of his route) Bolton MRT members were tasked with an evening search of the Ribble Valley Way, partly following the River Ribble, with Bolton MRT members split in to three search parties covering all footpaths between Chatburn, Sawley and Gisburn, along the Ribble Valley Way.

Commencing at 18.42hrs this tasking was completed at 22.20hrs, in now heavy rain and very poor visibility and chilling temperatures.

Other MRT assets were deployed alongside Police resources elsewhere over a wide area.

Our team was stood down at 22.30hrs, and arrangements were made for our involvement on Sunday should the search extend, whilst other MRTs were considered for the continuation on Saturday.

Our members arrived back at our Ladybridge Hall base / HQ by 23.20hrs, placing lighting on charge and kit out to dry.

In total twenty four Bolton MRT members and Search Dog Boris were involved in search operations, with three of our Land Rover Mountain rescue Ambulance vehicles attending and our Minibus.

A further two Bolton MRT assisted preparing items for our departure, and helping when we arrived back to our home base.

The Bolton MRT members involved in the search areas around Todber would like to express their thanks to the Grounds Maintenance Officer at Todber Caravan and Camping Site, who very kindly provided hot drinks for our members at the conclusion of their search in this area.

We would also like to thank the management of the same site for allowing us to park up securely within the Caravan and camping site whilst undertaking the search.